In an extraordinary exhibition of compelling fast bowling which recalled their great days, West Indies destroyed England yesterday. Jerome Taylor, bowling like the wind, ran through the tourists almost at will as they were dismissed for 51.
It was England's third-lowest total in their history and they were defeated by an innings and 23 runs. In nine irresistible overs, Taylor took five for 11, wonderfully, if somewhat oddly supported by the left-arm spin of Sulieman Benn, who took 4 for 31.
It was Taylor, however, who propelled the West Indies towards victory in the First Test. In doing so, he probably changed the course of the series – which England entered as overwhelming favourites – and may well have turned round the fortunes of the game in the Caribbean. England, 72 behind on first innings after some resourceful tailend batting in the morning, were impotent.
Those batsmen who were not dismissed by Taylor's lethal late swing timidly surrendered. As robustly as West Indies played, England were hopelessly fragile. The Caribbean has waited a long time for this and as word spread around Kingston, Sabina Park filled up. The roars could be heard round the region.
England were in trouble from the start. Alastair Cook went in the third over, playing an ill-advised drive to a ball going across him and on the stroke of lunch Ian Bell succumbed, playing a breathtakingly erroneous forcing shot off the back foot which ended in the wicketkeeper's gloves.
Immediately after lunch Taylor inflicted carnage. The ball with which he removed Kevin Pietersen was one for the ages. It swung viciously late, held its own, whistled past the bat and collided with off stump. It was his first ball after the break. As looseners go it was something.
Six overs of what passed for consolidation were ended when Taylor sent one across Andrew Strauss's defensive stroke and took the edge. Paul Collingwood was next, going back in his crease, and undone by the swing. He was not aware that his resulting edge had gone on to the leg stump but the cavorting West Indians should have told him something was up.
Taylor, in the spell of his life, was not done yet. He produced an off cutter to shatter Matt Prior's defences and England were 23 for six. The danger of failing to beat their lowest score of all time, 45 against Australia in 1887, increased when it became 26 for seven. It was not Taylor this time, but Benn to whom Stuart Broad played an orthodox forward defensive shot which went off the face of the bat into Xavier Marshall's hands at short left.
Andrew Flintoff and Ryan Sidebottom hung around for 12 overs, epic resistance in the circumstances, but Sidebottom was leg before on the back foot to Benn. The comparisons with the events at the ground five years ago were unavoidable. Then West Indies, having been in the game for three days, succumbed to a venomous burst of bowling by Stephen Harmison and were bowled out for 47. As a display of putting the boot on the other foot this can hardly have been bettered.
The end came mercifully quickly, Flintoff having a swing at Fidel Edwards and Harmison being bowled round his legs. Thus, England's brave new world is so far pretty like the old one. It is full of disappointments, of unfulfilled potential, of broken dreams, of the horrible suspicion that things may not get better soon.
West Indies extended their lead yesterday with some admirable tail-end resistance and the contrast with the opposition could not have been starker. One side was exhibiting determination and guts, playing proper Test cricket, the other until then had merely adapted those qualities as a fancy advertising slogan.
For most of the first three days and a bit it had been an attritional Test match of the sort that would have the backers of the Indian Premier League wondering what the game had come to. But West Indies have found a resilience that has been missing in their game for far too long.
This was again demonstrated as their last three wickets dug in yesterday. The tail was marshalled by Brendan Nash who, in his fourth Test innings, made his third successive fifty. It was never pretty but it embodied the new Caribbean, the pattern having been set by the captain Chris Gayle in the first part of the innings.
Although Stuart Broad took his first five-wicket haul in Test cricket, the West Indian tail did not crumble. Nash has attracted attention for being the first white player to represent the West Indies since Geoff Greenidge 36 years ago but his tenacity at the crease is quite as noteworthy.
What happened shortly after was not only noteworthy, it was heading for the history books.
England's lowest Test totals
45 v Australia, Sydney 1886-87
46 v West Indies, Trinidad 1993-94
51 v West Indies, Jamaica 2008-09
52 v Australia, The Oval 1948
53 v Australia, Lord's 1888
61 v Australia, Melbourne 1903-04
61 v Australia, Melbourne 1901-02
62 v Australia, Lord's 1888
64 v New Zealand, Wellington 1977-78
65 v Australia, Sydney 1894-95
71 v West Indies, Old Trafford 1976
Sabina Park scoreboard
England won toss
England – First Innings 318 (Pietersen 97, Prior 64)
West Indies – First Innings (Overnight 352-7: R R Sarwan 107, C H Gayle 104)
B P Nash c †Prior b Broad 55
(261 min, 164 balls, 4 fours)
S J Benn c Cook b Broad 23
(38 min, 36 balls, 3 fours, 1 six)
D B L Powell c †Prior b Harmison (ref) 9
(47 min, 23 balls)
F H Edwards not out (35 min, 24 balls) 10
Extras (b6 lb8 w1) 15
Total (698 min, 157.4 overs) 392
Fall (cont): 8-371 (Benn), 9-376 (Nash).
Bowling: R J Sidebottom 24-5-35-0, A Flintoff 33-11-72-2, S J Harmison 20.4-4-49-2, S C J Broad 29-7-85-5, M S Panesar 47-14-122-1, K P Pietersen 4-1-15-0.
England – Second Innings
*A J Strauss c †Ramdin b Taylor (69 min, 50 balls) 9
A N Cook c Smith b Taylor (11 min, 6 balls) 0
I R Bell c †Ramdin b Benn (24 min, 22 balls) 4
K P Pietersen b Taylor (3 min, 3 balls) 1
K D Collingwood b Taylor (35 min, 20 balls) 1
A Flintoff b Edwards (78 min, 47 balls, 3 fours) 24
†M Prior b Taylor (2 min, 4 balls) 0
S C J Broad c Marshall b Benn (5 min, 2 balls) 0
R J Sidebottom lbw b Benn (51 min, 43 balls) 6
S J Harmison b Benn (10 min, 3 balls) 0
M S Panesar not out (3 min, 3 balls) 0 fours, 0 sixes) 4
D B L Powell c Prior b Harmison
(23 balls, 0 fours, 0 sixes) 9
F H Edwards not out
(24 balls, 0 fours, 0 sixes) 10
Extras (b2, nb3) 5
Total (33.2 overs; 155 min) 51
Fall: 1-1 (Cook), 2-11 (Bell), 3-12 (Pietersen), 4-20 (Strauss), 5-23 (Collingwood), 6-23 (Prior), 7-26 (Broad), 8-50 (Sidebottom), 9-51 (Flintoff).
Bowling: J E Taylor 9-4-11-5, D B L Powell 7-3-5-0, S J Benn 14.5-2-31-4, C H Gayle 2-1-1-0, F H Edwards 1-0-1-1.
Umpires: A L Hill (NZ) and R E Koertzen (SA). TV umpire: D J Harper (Aus). Match referee: A G Hurst (Aus).
West Indies win by innings and 23 runs.
Man of the match: J E Taylor (WI).